checkers65477: (Books Cats Sweet)
Nothing like 20 hours in a car to force a person to finally crack open all those graphic novels sitting there.  
On to the graphic novels... )
checkers65477: (Books Cats Sweet)
I have [livejournal.com profile] tiegirl  to thank for several of my favorite books of the year.  Neither series is new, but both are ones I'll read again and again.  So good!

Psion, Catspaw and Dreamfall by Joan D. Vinge
The Truth Trap, Aren't You the One Who..., Losers and Winners and Cutting Loose by Frances A. Miller

[livejournal.com profile] aged_crone  recommended the Miller books to me, too.  Thanks, ladies!  Unfortunately, some of them can be difficult to find, but my new best friend, www.abebooks.com, usually comes through for me.

Other favorites this year:

The Last Child - John Hart
The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation - Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
Fearless Fourteen - Janet Evanovich
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis
Dairy Queen and The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (reading the third book now)
Dragon Bones - Patricia Briggs
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E. Lockhart
The True Meaning of Smekday - Adam Rex
Stitches: A Memoir - David Small
Sand Chronicles v. 1 - Hinako Ashihara
Bad Moon on the Rise - Katy Munger
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
A Conspiracy of Kings (arc) - Megan Whalen Turner

Most of these I reviewed in my LJ at some point.  Sixty-six books read, that's about average for me.  I used to read more before the shiny!internet addiction interfered.
checkers65477: (Books Cats Sweet)
Few more quick book write-ups.  Two novels, two graphic novels.

Books, cats, sweet. )

checkers65477: (Default)
The GNs... )

Gah.  Mostly nonfiction left to read.  *procrastinates*
checkers65477: (Default)
Stitches: a memoir by David Small deserves the National Book Award nomination it received this week.  When I first read the blurb on the back of the book:

One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had throat cancer and was expected to die. Small, a prize-winning children’s author, re-creates a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. Readers will be riveted by his journey from speechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist father and scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to his decision to flee his home at sixteen with nothing more than dreams of becoming an artist.

...I thought Yeesh, don't wanna read this don't wanna.  But it's less grim and more pragmatic than you would think, as things from a child's perspective often are.  So well done and not overly emotional.  It doesn't hit you over the head with the horribleness or unfairness--most of that is conveyed subtly in the illustrations, not in the text.  The story alternates between anger and pain and a child's longing.  The illustrations are almost abstract in places but always identifiable.  Fabulous 50s tone to it all.  David's face is often a taut mask--wary, apprehensive and filled with defensive anger.  Perfect.  But his pain is obvious.  One page, at a critical part in the story, has a shadow that caught me--is it a Rorschach inkblot?  One of those optical illusions that change perspective as you look at it differently?  Nothing is emotionalized, but the story is raw and bizarre.  That's one whacked-out family.  Highly recommend this one for HS and adult.

Cairo: a graphic novel by G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker--I'm not sure yet how I feel about this one.  I'll need to think about it for awhile.  It has a complex story that includes several sets of characters and story lines that overlap--characters who include a drug-smuggler, a would-be suicide bomber, a clueless, spoiled American, an Israeli soldier, and a jinn who lives in a hookah. 

The details of Cairo and the politics, history and religion of the area are well done--you are immersed in the setting.  The story is part fantasy, part current event and this mix works.  It's action-packed and thought-provoking.  The art is great--black and white, realistically done.  It reminded me a little of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies and would appeal to teens who like adventure stories.  The book has quite a lot of swearing and violence.  Definitely HS. 

Ack, tired.  More tomorrow.

Wow

Jun. 23rd, 2009 09:08 pm
checkers65477: (Books Cats Sweet)
Yes, another YA graphic novel.  The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.  I'd been putting off reading this one, but now that I have...

Wow. 

I put it off because it's nonfiction, and based on the actual >500 pg. report, and it deals with a topic that still makes me sad and mad.  But I read it in a day, hardly putting it down until I finished.  The first 25 pages suck you in with a timeline of the four planes and the drama as they take off and are seized by the hijackers.  This section ends with all four planes crashing. 

The rest of the book goes through the 9/11 report:  who the terrorists were, how they accomplished what they did, who was behind them and why, mistakes that were made, the bravery of the rescuers, how the government reacted, etc.  Key players are described and the politics behind all aspects are explained in an easy-to-understand, fascinating way. 

The art is clear and realistic; it melds perfectly with the non-emotional text.  Drawings of the people involved are almost photo-like.

Sometimes nonfiction is just as chilling as any horror story you might find in the fiction section.

Edited to add two pages of the sequential art.
The art )

Beowulf

Jun. 22nd, 2009 11:49 pm
checkers65477: (Beach)
The latest YA graphic novel I've read is Beowulf by Gareth Hinds.

A lush, dark and violent adaptation of the poem, Beowulf comes across like an ancient  superhero, which, I suppose, he was.  The story is easy to understand while it keeps the tone and feel of the original.  The illustrations really are works of art and capture all the battle scenes in wordless panels that tell the story without a need for narration.

From the author's website:
"Medium:
The three sections of Beowulf are done in different materials. Part 1 is drawn with ink using a dip pen and brush, then colored digitally.

Part 2 is drawn and painted on wood panels using technical pen, watercolor, acrylic, and color pencil.

Part 3 is drawn like part 1, but colored using Dr. Martin's dye and white charcoal.
"

This would be a great introduction to the poem for high school students who will be reading it, or an easier version for lower-level students who might not be able to handle the original work.  It's bloody enough that it's not meant for younger kids but I have a copy in my MS library for anyone who might feel ready to take on an entertaining version of the epic poem.

checkers65477: (Books Cats Sweet)
Third YA graphic novel.

Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned by cartoonist Judd Winick is a true story of Winick's stint on the MTV show Real World and his friendship with AIDS activist Pedro Zamora.  The two young men were roommates on the show and the book describes how the author became close friends with Pedro, who was HIV positive and becoming ill with AIDS.  It's written in a chatty, story-telling way; including everything from descriptions of the two characters's childhoods, to innane small talk as they got to know one another, to valuable factual information on HIV that's woven seamlessly into the story.  It's deeply personal and the author doesn't pull any punches about his ignorance and fear, or about what Pedro went through in his last year or so.  It's all told in a matter-of-fact way, with cartoon-looking people in a realistic, beautifully detailed setting.  Winick doesn't make Pedro a saint or a demon--just a dear friend who could have done anything with the rest of his life but chose to educate people about AIDS, who had a huge impact on his life, and died far too young.  At 22, in fact.

"He left this world a better place than he found it.  That's the greatest accomplishment a person could have in this life."

This book should be in every high school library.  I read it in just a couple of hours, but it'll stay with me for awhile.

checkers65477: (Books Cats Sweet)
Number two of the YA graphic novels I'm reading is Castle Waiting by Linda Medley.   It's a compilation of shorter comics into a hefty, 457-pg book that appears to be a novel until you open it.  It even has a bookmark ribbon and lovely, old fashioned endpapers.  Castle Waiting is a fairy tale with lots of modern twists.  

What do you suppose happened after Sleeping Beauty woke up?  In this story she waves goodbye to family and friends and takes off with her handsome prince.  After many years, the castle she left behind is a run-down sanctuary for those in trouble or with no place else to go.  People like Jain, who is pregnant and fleeing an abusive husband, Henry, whose son has died, Peace, the nun of the strange Solicitine Order, and others who run the castle and welcome all those who need it.  The book is a delightful, funny, fantasy fairy tale with intricate, straightforward graphics.  It's obvious the book is made up of lots of shorter stories added together and my only complaint is that it focused so much on Peace and the nuns that I never discovered everyone else's story.  If there are lots more volumes in store, then I'll look forward to them and finding out the details of every character's past, as well as what happens in the here and now at Castle Waiting.

Although there 's nothing objectionable in the book, it will appeal to older girls who want a story with grrrl power.  Very few kids at the middle school would sit still for it, so I'd recommend it for HS and up.

checkers65477: (Books Cats Sweet)
I'm reading YA graphic novels, something new for me.

The graphic novel Skim by cousins Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki tells the story of 16 year old Kim, a pudgy, quiet, half-Asian girl who attends an all-girl school in Canada.

Several story lines are included--Kim's home life with bitter, divorced parents, the cliquish "popular" students at school, Kim's goth/wiccan interests, and an inappropriate relationship with her eccentric English teacher that leaves Kim feeling depressed.  Kim eventually develops a friendship with another fragile classmate whose boyfriend has killed himself because he was gay. Yeah, it's a dark book that had me saying "yeesh" at first. As I read I became more and more attached to Kim, who seems unaffected and wooden to those around her, but whose diary reveals to the reader what she's really feeling. She's a smart, strong girl who knows deep down that her friend Lisa is a rat, the popular kids are insecure, the wiccans she meets with are frauds, and that her teacher has crossed lines that she shouldn't. By the end of the book I liked it very much.

I was bothered a bit by the language and some of the content--it's definitely for older teens.  Yet I wonder how teens would feel about it--it seems like a book that might appeal more to adults who remember the awful days of high school.

The illustrations are brilliant. Everything is contemporary yet resembles ancient Japanese illustrations. Nothing about the art is "beautiful" yet it's powerful.  Skim is everything sequential art should be--the text and art meld perfectly and are more than the sum of its parts.

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